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Meet Thomas

Tom Staperfenne’s role as a Youth Entrepreneurs educator sets him up perfectly to teach material he loves. “I think YE allows students to grow without being restricted,” says Tom. “It’s a worthwhile class and our students love it because the material will follow them long after they leave high school.” Meet Tom.

His YE connection: Tom taught for 12 years in Detroit, Mich. He taught Economics and Personal Finance for a majority of that time, until he had the opportunity to roll both subjects into an official YE class.

“In the fall of 2015, I received a brochure highlighting YE,” says Tom, “and eight months later I attended the educator training in Arizona to learn the curriculum. I knew right away it was material I could get behind. We offered the first YE class last fall (2017).”

What he loves most about YE: YE Foundational Values fuels content Tom teaches in the classroom. Each Value offers a framework he can structure lesson plans around.

“From a teacher’s perspective,” Tom mentions, “it’s well done, thorough and planned out. They did a great job mapping out what the class could look like for students to benefit.” The students love it, which makes it easy to get them involved in the activities. YE is something they want to join because it’s more hands-on and student-led.”

Most memorable mindset shift moment: The biggest mindset shift moment for Tom’s students is when they learn the importance of soft skills like making eye contact, communicating clearly and delivering a firm handshake. Teaching interpersonal communication aligns with the Foundational Value of “Being Principled” which means acting with integrity, respect and toleration. “My students learn a lot of soft skills that carry them way beyond the classroom,” Tom says.

Day in the life in his YE classroom: “If we are doing something brand new,” states Tom, “we’ll do it through a game or exercise offered on YE Academy.”

YE curriculum can be applied across many educational disciplines and settings such as homeschool environments, after-school programs, summer enrichment, labs, alternative schools and correctional facilities.

“To run a business, you have to know how to calculate costs which means finance focused activities. We’ll watch ‘Shark Tank’ snippets and read articles on other businesses students have started.”

The obstacles Tom sees students overcome with YE: Tom’s favorite YE component to teach is centered on the mindset necessary to succeed in the business world.

“A lot of my students started as sophomores and are now seniors, so I’ve seen them mature. Somewhere, from sophomore to senior year, I see something click with students and they exhibit motivation to pursue dreams on their own. YE brings out passion and curiosity. It’s not a class students are forced to take, but they want to take it anyway. It’s all about forming skills and applying them to business and life.”

If students remember just one lesson from YE, it’s this: “I love walking through Strategyzer’s Business Model Canvas with my students. That tool helps them give structure to a business idea. To let students loose and have them present original ideas is another huge mindset shift moment for them. Instead of another high school job interview, they create something totally different and new - I see the YE Foundational Values of ‘Freedom’ and ‘Passion’ driving this process.”

Feeling inspired to bring YE curriculum to your students? YE Academy provides the resources and interactive curriculum you need to get started in your classroom today.